Risks of senior isolation in British Columbia and new solutions
On August 28th, news reporters in British Columbia distributed the disturbing story of an elderly man who died after falling in his home. The man who fell was discovered by a concerned caretaker, who noticed a week’s worth of newspapers piling up on his front door. After spending an entire week on the floor, this 81-year-old man died in the hospital.
In a similar story, police found a 55-year-old man, who was likely on the floor for four to five days. His condition is unknown at this time.
Why aren't we having more conversations about the solutions?
It is important that these stories are raising awareness of the everyday risks associated with seniors in isolation. However, these stories can leave readers feeling concerned and upset without providing tangible options for taking action. We need to push this conversation forward.
The good news: There are numerous innovative thought leaders, organizations, and entrepreneurs creating brilliant tools and resources to change the way we address aging. If we can collectively embrace technological innovations and new ways of staying connected, we will be able to support our aging population.
Together, we can do better
I recently caught up with Vickie Cammack to get more insight from the perspective of the social innovation community. As the founding director of PLAN Institute and the CEO of Tyze. Vickie Cammack has written books, consulted and lectured internationally on social networks, organizational transformation and scaling social innovation. In her work, she challenges the world to see that caring for our most vulnerable is an opportunity to be our most human.
When asked to respond to the recent tragedies in the news, she made the following comment:
“Tragic situations such as this call on us to fulfill our deepest role as citizens, to look out for one another. These kinds of situations are avoidable. We need to watch over and reach out to our friends, family members and neighbours who are vulnerable to isolation.
No service, program or emergency response system can replace an engaged community when it comes to keeping us safe, healthy and happy. Human beings cannot thrive in isolation. The company of others is the sun, rain and soil of human existence,” said Vickie.
In addition to reframing how we view senior care, it is also important to embrace new technologies that provide time efficient and cost effective solutions.
Technological Innovations in Senior Care
1. Build a Network of Care - A Tyze personal network is a secure, practical, web-based solution that helps connect people around someone receiving care. With Tyze, you can privately communicate with family, friends and helpers about you or the person you care about. You can schedule appointments and events on a shared calendar, share files, photos, updates and much more anywhere, anytime.
2. Communicate - Through a highly simplified Skype interface, CanConnect allows users to connect with family and friends through audio and video interaction. To use CanConnect, the user views a gallery of familiar faces on a touch-screen computer monitor, each of which represents a pre-determined user contact. The user simply touches one of the photos to automatically establish audio and video contact with that person. For those with limited mobility, the device can also be operated with an accessibility switch.
In order to enable a more appropriate escalation of care, Claris Companion is an innovative communication appliance that helps promote self-managed care for seniors in their homes and includes visual consultations via video conferencing to ensure seniors are not unnecessarily admitted to hospital.
3. Monitor - You can now monitor the health and well-being of your loved one using a combination of technologies that include door contacts, motion sensors, bed sensors, medication monitors, remote-controlled video cameras, and an online monitoring program. Care Link Advantage helps to keep seniors safe when they choose to live at home.
For specific information about long distance caregiving, check out Missing Grandpa: Caring from a Distance by Dr. Kerry Byrne.